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Woman Blames American Airlines For Severe Turbulence On Chicago-Bound Flight That Left Her With a Broken Collarbone and Ribs

Woman Blames American Airlines For Severe Turbulence On Chicago-Bound Flight That Left Her With a Broken Collarbone and Ribs

a plane flying in the sky

A woman is suing American Airlines over a severe turbulence incident that occurred in June 2022 that left her with a broken collarbone and several broken ribs after she was flung out of her seat and over the top of the seat in front.

Stacey Rock filed her lawsuit in a Chicago district court earlier this month, claiming unspecified damages against American Airlines under the Montreal Convention because she says the pilots should have avoided severe storms in the Chicago area.

The Montreal Convention is an international treaty which gives passengers the right to sue airlines for injuries sustained onboard a flight. The maximum amount of compensation that can be awarded is equivalent to around $175,000.

Rock was flying with American Airlines on Flight 151 from Paris Charles de Gaulle to Chicago O’Hare on June 13, 2022, and the flight was scheduled to land at around 5 pm.

That same afternoon, the National Weather Service put the entire Chicago Metro area on high alert due to a Supercell storm that was set to bring a ‘swath of severe wind damage and two tornados’ to the region.

Winds at Chicago O’Hare (ORD) gusted to 84 miles per hour – the second strongest wind gust ever recorded at the airport, and at one point, a tornado warning sent airline passengers racing to storm shelters.

As the storm progressed, the FAA held all inbound flights and issued a ground stop on departing flights, but this only occurred after Flight 151 had already landed.

Despite knowledge of the approaching storm, Rock claims the pilots of Flight 151 carried onto O’Hare – a decision that she says demonstrates American’s ‘disregard for passenger safety’.

As the flight was approaching O’Hare, Rock “was physically thrown out of her seat, landing with her feet over the seat in front of her.” She suffered multiple fractures to her ribs and sustained a broken collarbone, along with severe bruising to her torso.

Two years later, Rock says her collarbone hasn’t fully healed and she is unable to wear a backpack or even a purse without experiencing pain and discomfort.

At the time that turbulence struck the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, Rock admits that she wasn’t wearing her seatbelt but claims that the seatbelt sign wasn’t switched on and that neither the pilots nor the flight attendants attempted to warn passengers about the dangers of bad weather on approach to Chicago.

Rock’s husband is also named as a plaintiff in the lawsuit for his “loss-of-consortium” following the severe turbulence event.

Matt’s take

There’s currently a lot of attention on inflight turbulence events following the fatal incident aboard Singapore Airlines flight SQ321 on May 20, which left scores of passengers seriously injured.

In that incident, bad weather had also been forecast, and the seatbelt signs were switched on just seconds before the worst of the turbulence hit the aircraft. Flight attendants had little time to warn passengers before anyone who wasn’t already strapped in was thrown into the air.

Since that tragic accident, the aviation industry has committed to taking turbulence more seriously, with Singapore Airlines saying it will suspend all meal services whenever the seatbelt sign is switched on.

The boss of Emirates, Sir Tim Clark, also said at a recent industry event in Dubai that airlines would likely do more to ensure that passengers are strapped in at all times – not only when the seatbelt sign is on.

Singapore Airlines has offered $10,000 in compensation to passengers who sustained ‘minor injuries’ on Flight 321, although they will be free to pursue claims under Article 17 of the Montreal Convention for a potentially bigger payout.

The most seriously injured passengers have so far been offered $25,000 in compensation, although this is a downpayment for what could be much higher awards.

View Comments (4)
  • Don’t announcements as well as the safety card tell you to keep your seatbelt fastened while seated in case of turbulence?

  • I agree that she should have been belted. But if there’s no sign, what if you have to use the bathroom or something? Not her sitch but it could have been. Given the severity of the storm, I’d say AA idioted even more than the passenger. And maybe they’ll care a bit more if it hits their bottom line. I stopped flying them years ago because of their horrible attitude and culture.

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